Whether you have his shoes. Or have his poster hanging in your wall. Or wear #23 because of him. Or if you just sit on Youtube looking at highlights and thinking “Wow.” Michael Jordan has affected generations due to his greatness. And today, celebrating his 50th birthday, His Airness is still the butt of every basketball conversation.
Now, I’m only 20 years old, so I never witnessed the legend that was Michael Jordan. However, I have heard a great deal of stories and watched hours of Youtube highlights on MJ, and how I wish I was born 10 years earlier. The things Jordan did, you do on video games. It’s almost unimaginable. Unbelievable. Unfathomable. Michael Jordan, of course, is the greatest basketball player ever. Being as it is his birthday, I think we should take a look back on some of his greatest moments in his illustrious career.
“God was disguised as Michael Jordan.”: In the 1985-86 season, Jordan broke his foot, limiting him to play in just 18 games, but he was healed and back in time for the playoffs, facing none other than the Boston Celtics. Despite being swept, Jordan made his mark in Game 2. Scoring 63 points on 22-41 shooting from the field and 19-21 at the free throw line in a 135-131 double overtime thriller in Boston Garden. Bird would go on and say that “God was disguised as Michael Jordan.”
“48 to tie, 49 to win … 50.” The ever so famous Slam Dunk Contest that has been often imitated by youngsters and even NBA players. The dunk from the free throw line. The image that has never left our minds. The image that his. Forever. The image you think of when you say “His Airness”.
The Shot: Poor Craig Ehlo. This highlight never gets old. 1989-90 opening round of the playoffs. Game 5. The beginning of what would become a reoccurring theme in the playoffs for Jordan and the Bulls. Down 100-99 Jordan received the ball and hits the buzzer-beater of Ehlo. Leading to the famous Dick Stockton call – “ Here’s Michael at the foul line, the shot on Ehlo…GOOD! THE BULLS WIN IT! THEY WIN IT!”
The Sam Perkins Shot: The 1990-91 was memorable on many levels for #23. Jordan won his second MVP Award and the Bulls went on and won 61 games and won the NBA Championship in a 4 game sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers. But perhaps the most everlasting image from that season was the Sam Perkins shot. While attempting a dunk, Jordan switched hands mid-air and laid the ball in over Sam Perkins. Jordan went on to win Finals MVp, his first of many.
The “I Can’t Believe I’m Doing This” Shrug: The 1991-92 season was just as memorable as the previous season. Jordan won his second consecutive MVP Award and the Bulls went 67-15 and met the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA Finals. Game 1 Jordan went off and scored 35 first half points, including an NBA Finals record 6 3-pointers. After his sixth 3-pointer, Jordan looked at the bench and shrugged. An image that people still do.
3-Peat: Part 1: Jordan and his Bulls went on to meet the Phoenix Suns led by MVP Charles Barkley in the 1992-93 NBA Finals. Jordan would lead the charge, beating the Suns in 6 games and Jordan would average an NBA Finals record 41.0 points per game, including 4 straight 40+ games.
72-10: After returning from retirement the previous season, entering the 1995-96, Jordan and the Bulls would go and make history. Jordan and the Bulls started the season 41-3 and went on to set an NBA record 72 wins. Bulls went on and lost only 3 total games in the playoffs and Jordan won his 4th Finals MVP, along with regular season MVP and All-Star Game MVP. Only the second player to ever do that.
Flu Game: In Game 5 of the ’96-’97 NBA Finals, Jordan played through a stomach virus and dehydration. Overcoming his illness, MJ scored 38 points, including the game winning 3-pointer with 25 seconds remaining. En route to the Bulls 5th title and his 5th Finals MVP.
6th Title: Jordan ended his Bulls career in perfect fashion. Game 6. Down 86-85. 10 seconds remaining. Jordan stared down his prey. Dribbles right, cross left. Jump shot. Good. Game. 87-86. Second 3-peat. Dynasty. 6th title, 6th finals MVP. His last shot as a Chicago Bull.
Of course that’s just a small sample of the enormous body of work Jordan has amassed. Jordan also has a handful of career accomplishments:
- 6-time NBA Champions
- 6-time NBA Finals MVP
- 5-time NBA MVP
- 14-time NBA All Star
- 3-time NBA All-Star MVP
- 11-time All-NBA Team
- 9-time All NBA Defensive Team
- 10-time NBA Scoring Champion
- 2-time Gold Medalists
- 1984-85 NBA Rookie of the Year
- 1987-88 NBA Defensive Player of the Year
- 1981-82 NCAA Champion
- 1981-82 ACC Freshmen of the Year
- 1983-84 John R. Wooden Award Winner
- 2009 Hall of Fame Inductee
Michael Jordan is simply, the greatest basketball player that any of us has ever seen. And if he we before or after our time, we have his highlights in our memory. We celebrate an amazing talent that was Michael Jordan.
Happy Birthday #23.